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Friday, April 24th 2009

Get to Know Thakoon: First Lady and Fashion Favorite

Designer Thakoon Panichgul backstage at his fall 2009 runway show.

Style.com’s Laird Borrelli said of designer Thakoon Panichgul’s first collection in September 2004: “In just ten pieces, Thakoon Panichgul put himself on the map with an aesthetic that’s forward-looking, respectful of the past, and not at all vintage.” And in those three points captured the tone of every collection to follow. The designer has built his name on pieces that are deceptively simple and fluidly contradictory: looking to the future yet inspired by the past.

Born in Thailand, raised in Omaha, and educated (in business) in Boston, Thakoon moved to New York where he was a fashion writer and design student at Parsons before becoming a favorite of the fashion set. Falling into favor with First Lady Michelle Obama, whose sartorial choices have included the designer’s pieces on more than one occasion, has made Thakoon a household name. And the brand continues to grow. He designed a resort collection for Target last winter and will soon launch Thakoon Addition, a complement to his runway collection.

But the most important thing to note about this designer? His creations.

Three looks from the spring 2009 Thakoon runway.

For the spring season, Thakoon offers signature prints laden with playful wit, yet also chicly serious (think pieces that work for an evening out, a summer wedding, or even a day at the office). Ethereal, billowy silhouettes are tempered with bandage details, and pieces move from delicate to avant-garde and back again. This runway proved more provocative than seasons past, yet it was also demure—a paradox that plays well in Thakoon’s subtle conflicts.

A black and white sheath and a ruffled dress in a trompe l’oeil print, both from the fall 2009 runway.

Looking ahead to Thakoon’s fall collection, the prints evolve into a feminine-yet-cool ruffle trompe l’oeil, and though the runway was dominated by fall’s favorite hues (black, grey, beige, cream), the designer worked in rich jewel tones that added depth and interest.

But perhaps the best lesson is that every last piece is accessible and wearable, arguably the most valuable characteristics in fashion at this moment.

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